Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) is found predominately in terminally differentiated cells, such as adipocytes, endothelia and smooth muscle cells, as well as type I pneumocytes. As a main structural component of caveolae, Cav-1 is important in modulating cellular signaling. In the present study, the expression and clinical role of Cav-1 were analyzed in tumor stromal and human cancer cells, respectively. The results of previous studies have shown that the downregulation of tumor stromal Cav-1 promotes tumor survival and predicts a poor tumor prognosis, predominantly concentrating on the mechanism of the metabolism of the cancer microenvironment (according to the autophagic tumor stroma model of cancer metabolism and the reverse Warburg effect). However, contradictory results concerning the expression, clinical roles and associated mechanisms of Cav-1 have been reported. An improved understanding of Cav-1 expression in tumor stromal and cancer cells will increase knowledge with regard to the clinical value of Cav-1 and its detailed mechanisms. This review summarizes the novel data concerning the clinical values and probable mechanisms of Cav-1 expression in tumor stromal (predominantly in cancer-associated fibroblasts) and cancer cells, respectively.